Alcohol & Bereavement Case Study

Absence due to Stress

A teacher in a large secondary school was signed  off work with stress. His Line Manager referred the teacher to Occupational Health.for  advice on his health and support with helping John return to work.

What factors can trigger Stress?

During the Occupational Health consultation John said that he was struggling with sleeping, and finding it difficult to switch off from work. John felt overwhelmed by both his home and work life. John’s father has died in the last six months and he had recently taken on extra management responsibilities at work.

As a result  he was struggling to cope with the extra work and he was concerned that his level of alcohol consumption had increased. He was drinking a bottle of wine a night as a way of coping with everything.

Tackling the issues associated with Stress.

The Occupational Advisor focused on John’s drinking and the issue of bereavement. They discussed strategies that John felt could help him to cut down his alcohol consumption and he was also signposted to services who support people with problematic drinking.  The issue around bereavement was also discussed and John was signposted for bereavement counselling and also to stress management on the NHS.

What help is available to support employees with stress?

At review consultation six-week later showed that John had seen his GP, he was accessing a Stress Management course through NHS and he was developing healthier coping strategies. He had cut down his drinking and had noted some improvements in terms of his sleep and mood. He had also started bereavement counselling and was finding it helpful. John was now able to talk more about his work and some of the problems he was experiencing. John realised that it was not the right time to take on the extra responsibilities at work and was hoping to reduce these when he returned to work.

Returning to Work following an Absence with Stress.

John returned to work after three months off work with stress.  Occupational health advised management to carry out a stress questionnaire to help John’s return to work and OH provided management with a 4-week phased return with reduced workload and reduced hours. John gave up his management duties for a three month period while he developed a better work/life balance. He also meet regularly with his line manager to review his workload and to identify any additional support he might need early on.


John managed a smooth return back to work and with the new found skills in stress management and with the support from OH and management was able to resume his work and personal lifestyle.